Will Venmo’s “Lucas” ads influence baby names in NYC?

In December, advertisements for money exchange app Venmo went up all over the NYC subway. The ads feature a young man named Lucas.

Lucas Venmo ads
Lucas buys a round, Lucas rides the subway, Lucas crosses the street
© Fast Company

In January, the ads were mocked by Buzzfeed. They were called “aspie advertising” by Valleywag. They inspired one developer to create a ‘Lucas from Venmo’ Subway Ad Generator.

I don’t live in NYC, so I didn’t find out about these weirdly controversial ads until February, when Fast Company wrote about Lucas.

If you’ve ridden the New York City subway in the last two months, you know Lucas. You might hate him, but you know him. He’s the mustachioed man who stares at you from subway ads, never quite smiling, under a declaration of stuff he does: Lucas buys a round, Lucas takes the stairs, Lucas uses Venmo.

Fast Company said the “reviled” campaign “has drawn extreme reactions from subway riders, many of whom despise the Lucas ads. Who is Lucas? What is Venmo? Why is his half-stache so creepy?”

So now here’s my question: Do you think this advertising campaign will have any effect on the usage of the baby name Lucas in NYC? If so, what sort of effect?

We don’t know where Lucas ranks on the NYC list currently, but it probably isn’t too far outside the top 10. While it wasn’t one of the top 10 boy names overall in 2012, it did rank 3rd for Asians and Pacific Islanders specifically (they make up more than 10% of NYC’s population). In the meanwhile, Lucas ranked 17th in New York state and 27th nationally — the highest it’s ever ranked in either region.

So the baby name Lucas is popular across the board and still on the rise, at least as of 2012.

Do you think it will reach the NYC top 10 in 2014? (If not, earlier? Later?)

And, do you think the Lucas ads will help it get there? (If not, hinder it? No effect?)

3 thoughts on “Will Venmo’s “Lucas” ads influence baby names in NYC?

  1. What an interesting insight! I live in NYC and saw these ads constantly while they were up. I’ve never been a big fan of the name Lucas (I think mucus and lupus), but I thought the guy in the ad was attractive in a way that made Lucas seem fresh and cool. I realize it did change my perception of the name! So I doubt I’m alone. Luca seems more popular than Lucas among babies I know– Lucia and Lucy too– but I wouldn’t be surprised if all got an uptick in NYC from these ads.

  2. I wonder how many NYC subway riders now like Lucas (and other Lu- names) more than they used to, but aren’t quite sure why. :)

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